I admit that the thought of one kitchen appliance that could multi-task caught my attention. I was in search of a pressure cooker for a while. “Should I?” was a question I raised amongst family and friends repeatedly for over a year now. Do I need it? People I know who have it LOVE it. But I also love my slow cooker. But realistically, space is an issue in my kitchen. Also, I don’t know much about pressure cookers – the thought that one could cook a full meal in a ridiculously short amount of time? I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Both my mother and my sister love their pressure cookers. Then I thought, heck, if my mom who’s in her mid-70s, was confident enough to use one, then what am I afraid of? So, my mission was on to find one that best suited our family needs and lifestyle — that is, me with three guys in the house who have bottomless stomachs.

What recently came to my attention was the Ninja Foodi (6.5 qt)– it’s not just a pressure cooker but it’s also a slow cooker and air fryer. It also broils, bakes, roasts, and dehydrates. It sounds pretty convenient on busy weeknights but hey, it would be great at cottages too, I’m guessing. And now that the weather is nice, who wants to spend time in the kitchen?Plus, it seemed like the ideal time to learn something new.

But my curiousity isn’t just about timing and ease but  with all of these features what are the results? How’s the texture of the food made? Will the meals be tender and still juicy? And what about appearance? I’ll be digging into that and sharing my experience.

I had poured through the starter guide and the 20 recipes that were included with the Foodi for a few days. I joined their Official Ninja Kitchen Facebook group for support and I’m glad I did – the very large community has been helpful and quick to offer tips and sharing recipes.  I also printed off additional recipes off the internet that were more diverse  — hello  Asian rice noodles, curries, and dumplings!

I’m not afraid to play around with ingredients and spices but if you’re the least bit hesitant then start with recipes that come with the Ninja Foodi. The whole roast chicken seems to be a popular recipe for newbies that looks pretty juicy — I’d follow the cooking guidelines but will probably go for a curry rub or jerk seasoning next time I get a whole chicken.

My first dish was a Spicy Shrimp & Mango Salsa Rice Bowl. I wanted to use ingredients that I had on hand.  I found a base recipe that came close to what I had in mind on the official Ninja Kitchen site for guidance on settings and timing. The result was a very easy, fast flavourful, and pretty impressive dinner. The shrimps turned out perfectly cooked with all the gorgeous colours, flavours, and texture.

My thoughts “well, that was damn good and easy!” and it prompted me to search for more recipes. I’ve even ordered a Ninja Foodi Cookbook. Yes, there are tons of books! I just found out it can even cook from frozen. I’ll test that out soon.  I can already see the endless possibilities of creating fast meals at home from soups (oooh, Clam Chowder) to roasts to one-pot meals and desserts. I’ll be sharing my favourite recipes as I continue to explore this appliance. Oh, and yes, I’ve already given away my slow-cooker and air fryer.

SPICY SHRIMP & MANGO SALSA RICE BOWL (serves 4)

STEP 1: RICE

  • 1 cup of long grain rice
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  1. Combine rice, water and salt in cooking pot, use the pressure lid and lock in place with the vent in SEAL position.
  2. Pressure cook on HIGH for 2 minutes. When cooking is done (it will beep), quick release the pressure by moving the valve to VENT and allow it to completely vent before opening. (you can take this time to prep the shrimp if you haven’t already)
  3. Once the pressure is released then unlock the lid when ready. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp of lime juice and mix with rice.

STEP 2: SHRIMP 

  • 12 large shrimps (thawed if frozen, shells removed, veins removed)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of fresh garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp seasoning (I chose Napa Valley’s Whole Spice “Everything BBQ Rub” but experiment with what other BBQ seasonings you have on hand)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 red chili pepper, finely chopped (I used a Thai red chili pepper, but you can also use jalepeno)
  1. Toss shrimp with seasoning and all other ingredients and set aside.
  2. When rice is cooked, remove the Pressure Lid carefully (you’ll be using the crisping lid that’s attached to the Foodi to cook the shrimp). Insert the reversible rack to sit above the cooked rice – the tray of the rack should be closer to the top of the cooking pot.
  3. Place the uncooked shrimp in a single layer over the tray, allowing the marinade to drip over the rice.
  4. Cover over Crisping Lid over the shrimp and rice. Select the BROIL feature and set time for 7 minutes. Open the lid at halfway point and flip the shrimp over and close the lid to finish cooking for an even cook.

STEP 3: MANGO SALSA

  • 1 small mango, skinned, seed removed, chopped
  • 1 small red pepper, seeds removed, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.

STEP 4: ASSEMBLE

When shrimp and rice is cooked, assemble on the plate as shown above.

Finish with a dash of Tabasco to taste (you can use Original, Chipotle, Habanero, Jalapeno or Garlic Tabasco options here – all are good!). Garnish with avocado, green onion slivers or even fresh cilantro.

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Details and what you need to know:

The Ninja Foodi 6.5 qt is an ideal size for creating meals for four to six people (check individual recipes for portion sizes).

It comes with two lids: Pressure Lid and Crisping Lid – the latter is permanently attached. It also comes with a fryer basket and a reversible wire tray. The Pressure Lid is easy enough to clean, the seal can be removed for easy washing, while the Crisping lid will require to wipe down after each use. Additional accessories are sold separately that you may want to invest in once you’ve nailed down the essentials.

The guide book is FULL of details. Wise to do the water pressure test as your first step to experience what the pressure cooker can do. This was very helpful for someone like me who was intimidated at first. This give you a quick understanding of how much pressure is built up inside while in use. By the way, it’s not as loud as I had anticipated.

Make sure you have clear and unobstructed counter space.

More details about this particular model, and other models, here: www.ninjakitchen.ca

The Ninja Foodi is available through retailers including Canadian Tire, Best Buy, Amazon.ca , and Bed Bath & Beyond.

 

 

 

*Full disclosure: The Ninja Foodi was provided for review and testing purposes.